Angelina Jolie hopes the new film “First They Killed My Father,” which she produced and directed, depicts the suffering, and resilience, of the people of Cambodia, “in a way that they deserve to be seen.”
“For any country, it’s important to understand … your past,” Jolie told ABC News’ Juju Chang. “Cambodia has a beautiful, ancient, thousands-of-year-old, you know, glorious past, but also a past that is, has, war and genocide. And it’s something that isn’t spoken about.”
Jolie said she thinks it was “really important” to open up a discussion about the darker aspects of the country’s history.
“First They Killed My Father” is an unflinching account of the Cambodian genocide as told through the eyes of a child.
“I think people sometimes when they talk about genocide and crimes against humanity and war,” Ung said. “They forget that the most vulnerable victims in all of this are the children.”
Jolie, who previously directed the film “In the Land of Blood and Honey,” which is set during the Bosnian War, said she makes war films in an effort to educate others, so that history does not repeat itself.
“I want to know how people get to a place where they do such harm to each other,” Jolie said. “This is not 40 years ago. This is today. We have 45 million people displaced today. We have so many ongoing wars. We’re seeing ethnic cleansing. We’re seeing murder, death, starvation.”
“What is worse is then, we could say, ‘If we knew, if we knew … we would have done so much,'” she said. “We know so much now … It is something we must be very conscious of today.”
Cambodia is also a country that is very close to Jolie’s heart. She is a citizen of the southeast Asian nation, and her oldest son, Maddox Jolie-Pitt, was adopted from Cambodia.
Maddox Jolie-Pitt, 16, serves as an executive producer on the film. Jolie said that having her son connect with his home country and learn more about his identity is one of the most important things that came out of the making of this film.
“This wasn’t as much about him becoming a filmmaker as him working with his countrymen,” Jolie said. “When I see him on set working with everybody, and when he says to me, ‘Well, Mom, it’s because I’m Cambodian,’ or … something about ‘my home,’ or … I say to him, ‘are you proud?’ And he says, ‘I’m very proud to be…